Fla. Gov. DeSantis takes credit for relocating migrants to Martha’s Vineyard
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In a surprise Wednesday evening, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said the state had sent two planes with migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., apparently jump-starting an immigration program that the administration has released no details on.
The governor told reporters three weeks ago that the program was on standby, and the Florida Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the immigrant relocation program, said it had no details about how it would work yet.
Things changed on Wednesday — on DeSantis’ birthday.
“Florida can confirm that two planes with illegal immigrants that arrived in Martha’s Vineyard today were part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities,” Taryn Fenske, the governor’s communication director, said in a statement.
Martha’s Vineyard is an island south of Cape Cod, popular for summer vacations and accessible only by plane or ferry.
Fox News was given an exclusive, and it showed footage of the migrants arriving in Martha’s Vineyard on its nightly, prime-time show.
“Everyone on the left has a home there. Do you think they are going to be embracing their new neighbors?” Fox News host Jesse Watters said.
Fenske did not provide further details. Among the questions that have not been answered are how many migrants were transported out of the state, how they were relocated, which private company transported them, how much those companies were paid and how the program works.
The Martha’s Vineyard Times reported that about 50 migrants arrived in two chartered planes and that at least some of them had come from Texas. The Times said at least some of the people were Venezuelan. Local authorities were housing and feeding the people, the Times reported.
Texas has been busing migrants to Washington, D.C., and New York City since April as part of a program called “Operation Lone Star,” which, similar to Florida, was launched in a rebuke to President Joe Biden’s immigration policies.
In Texas, the program is voluntary for migrants who show documentation that they have been processed and released by the Department of Homeland Security. The state pays for the travel expenses, according to the Texas Tribune.
DeSantis’ administration has not said whether the program in Florida would work like the one in Texas, and has not said whether the migrants who were transported to Martha’s Vineyard volunteered to be taken there at taxpayer expense.
The Florida program was funded starting July 1 after DeSantis signed this year’s state budget, which included $12 million for the initiative. Under the Legislature-approved guidelines, the state can contract with private transportation companies to bus people to other parts of the country. DeSantis had talked about sending them to Delaware, the state Biden calls home.